Santa Barbara Fire

The Alisal Fire started west of Santa Barbara and quickly spread to thousands of acres during nightmarish weather for firefighters

Strong winds were still whipping California Tuesday after felling trees, stoking wildfires, including the Alisal Fire near Santa Barbara, and cutting off power to customers.

Red flag warnings of dangerous fire conditions continued in mountains, valleys, canyons and deserts due to dry and windy weather. Winds of 25 mph with gusts up to 70 mph were expected through Tuesday afternoon.

At least half a dozen fires broke out across the state Monday. Most were still small, but a fire west of Santa Barbara quickly spread to 6,000 acres. The fire burned in a dense chaparral through an area of ​​ranches, canyons, and parks.

The flames prompted the mandatory evacuation of El Capitan State Park along with the campgrounds, cattle and horse ranches near Refugio State Beach and forced the closure of Highway 101, the only thoroughfare along the coast, when the flames broke. moved south toward the ocean, said US Forest Service spokesman Andrew Madsen.

On the central coast, a tree fell on power lines in Hearst San Simeon State Park, setting off a small brush fire, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection tweeted. And high winds toppled a tree, destroyed three parked cars and damaged a home in the coastal city of El Granada in San Mateo County, CalFire said. However, no injuries were reported.

Windy weather is a nightmare for firefighters in a state where heat waves and a historic drought linked to climate change have left forests and brush dry. The fires that started in late summer are still burning after destroying hundreds of homes.

In the Sierra Nevada, the so-called KNP complex fires may have burned hundreds of giant sequoia trees in the groves of Sequoia National Park and were only 30% contained. On Monday, a firefighter with a hand-held team working on the fire was struck by a rolling rock. The firefighter was airlifted to a hospital and is in stable condition, fire officials said.

The National Weather Service said the blown dust spread from the Sacramento Valley, through the San Joaquin Valley and into the high desert of the Antelope Valley north of Los Angeles. 

Caltrans said sections of State Route 138 near the city of Lancaster in the Antelope Valley and State Route 14 were closed due to the dust storm and several overturned trucks blocking the road.